As lockdown restrictions ease, many are anticipating an escape to the great outdoors to clear the cobwebs. Here, we outline the latest rules and guidelines on camping holidays this summer.
Campsites in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are now allowed to reopen, just in time to salvage their peak summer season.
The news comes as a relief for many campsite and holiday park owners, who previously feared that strict rules surrounding the use of shared facilities such as toilets and shower blocks would force them to remain closed for the foreseeable future.
Several industry leaders wrote to the Government last month, urging ministers to “Save Our Summer”, or risk the widescale loss of businesses and jobs.
Now, along with hotels, pubs and other hospitality businesses, campsites in all parts of the UK except have been given the green light to start welcoming guests as the country enters phase three of its lockdown exit strategy.
Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com, said: “We are over the moon. It’s the shot in the arm domestic tourism badly needed. With only 60 days of trading between July 4 and the August bank holiday, time was running out fast.
“Spending will still be nowhere near previous years, but this move goes some way to mitigating what was promising to be a very dark winter for the countless parts of the UK that rely on tourism. No other accommodation sector has the capacity to help rescue the summer like ours does.”
The Government has released details of its “Covid-19 Secure” guidelines, while Visit Britain has now unveiled a new industry-wide quality mark for tourism businesses that demonstrate safe hygiene standards, providing a ‘ring of confidence’ for both business owners and consumers.
Most campsites have been using the last three months to implement new cleaning regimes, queuing systems for toilets and showers, and other health and safety measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Read on for more details on when campsites are reopening, what new safety features we can expect to see, and whether it is possible to book your camping holiday now.
This page will be updated as and when guidance changes.
Are people booking yet?
Yes, plenty of people are doing just that. Online campsite guide and reservations site, Cool Camping, reported an instant increase in bookings for July, August and September following the Prime Minister’s last announcement on UK tourism.
“There does seem to be some pent-up demand for camping with consumers having waited for guidance that lockdown measures might be eased before booking,” said Cool Camping’s founder, Jonathan Knight.
Will it be safe?
Most campsites are already well set up for social distancing, with acres of space in which people can pitch their tents and move around without coming too close to their fellow campers. To be on the safe side, the Government has still told campsites they must clearly mark out pitches at a safe distance from one another. There are still some problem areas: for instance, what is the best way to tackle shared facilities such as kitchens, showers and lavatories?
The situation is a little easier for caravan and motorhome owners. By and large these are already equipped for a self-contained lifestyle – and pitches are already more than two metres apart for fire safety reasons – so there will be little to no need to come into contact with others.
What new safety measures are there?
Campsite operators have been experimenting with ways to improve safety since lockdown was imposed, so most, if not all, should be well-versed in their various new safety rules. The Government has also issued its guidance for campsites and holiday parks, and returning campers are likely to see some big changes this summer. Contact between staff and guests will be reduced to an absolute minimum, as will interaction between campers. Some of the larger sites might have to introduce one-way systems, while marked queues and time-slots for shower and toilet facilities are likely to become normality. Parents will also be responsible for making sure their children observce social distancing rules.
Visit Britain has been working with the UK Government to create an industry-wide quality mark that tourism businesses can now use to demonstrate their approved safety standards. The organisation hope this will “provide a ‘ring of confidence’ for tourism businesses, attractions and destinations, as well as reassurance to visitors that businesses have clear processes in place as restrictions are lifted.”
What if there is a new wave of outbreaks?
Of course, consumers should be wary of any changes to the Government’s lockdown plan that could see reopening dates pushed further back. But a number of campsites, holiday parks and other hospitality businesses have now introduced coronavirus guarantees, generally allowing free transfer or cancellation of booking dates if restrictions are extended or reimposed. Be sure to check before booking.
Where do you hope to go camping now restrictions have lifted? Tell us in the comments section below.